There is little to prove for Mike and Bob Bryan. The 36 year old identical twins from California are the most dominant ‘doubles act’ in the history of tennis, winning every significant doubles record. They showed up at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London this week with the number one ranking already in the bag. In 13 visits to the elite year end event they have won three titles. They won their 100th career title at this year’s US Open, which extended their record haul of majors to 16 and enabled them to achieve the top ranking for a record 10th year. The Bryans have also won numerous Olympic medals, including the gold at the 2012 London Games.
The two are equally known for their post victory flying chest bump – a tradition they started back in their college days at Stanford in 1996. I drew this quick pencil sketch of the famous act.
The trick was working out who was who, because for the past few days they have not arrived at or left the O2 together. “Bob?…… Or is it Mike?”
I got Bob (the younger by two minutes) first. The next day a friend said, “there’s a Bryan,” …. but which one?
“Mike?” I said in hope. He looked at me and said nothing.
“No, I’m Mike.” Oh, a twin tease. He happily signed.
Described as the best counter puncher in men’s tennis today, Andy Murray returned to London’s O2 this week for the ATP World Tour Finals after an arduous six weeks and three titles to gain the necessary ranking points to make up the top eight at the end-of-season finale.
The 27 year old Scot has a current world ranking of six and is fifth all time leader in earnings. He has won 31 titles, including two slams. In 2012 he won the US Open and the following year he claimed the WImbledon Championship, defeating current world number one, Novak Djokovic on both occasions. Andy also wn the singles gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and a silver with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles.
Assked if he was Scottish or British, Andy replied, in jest, “depends if I’m winning.”
Andy signed this sketch at the O2 pier before boarding the clipper to attend the WTF launch gala.
Regarded by most as ‘the greatest tennis player of all time’, Swiss maestro Roger Federer entered the ATP World Tour Finals this week ranked 2nd, chasing Novak Djokovic for the year the year end top position.
After his first round win against Canadian giant Milos Raonic he was presented with the ATP World Tour Fans’ Favourite Award, which he’s won for a record 12 times straight since 2003 and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award (voted by the players) for a record tenth time.
His achievements are to numerous to mention here, but he will get to add a missing one when he represents Switzerland against France in the Davis Cup Final after WTF extravaganza.
Roger was leaving the O2 on Friday evening with the other seven men making up the field. Security did warn us they were in a hurry to board the Thames Clipper boat to go to the WTF launch gala, but when I asked Roger, he said, “walk with me,” and kindly signed and dedicated my sketch.
Pat Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic contested the 2001 Wimbledon Men’s single’s final. The former was one of the top seeds, the latter was ranked 125, although he had been runner-up in three previous occasions, in 2001 he went one better.
I accidentally placed a $5 bet on the Ivanisevic to win and considered it money not well spent, given the huge odds. Actually I meant to back 4th seed Marat Safin, but not being an experienced gambler I selected the wrong number when filling in the betting slip. Ironically Goran beat Marat in the Quarterfinals and went on to turn my fiver into a wad of cash.
With back to back US Open titles in 1997-98 briefing holding the World Number One ranking, Pat was favoured. Goran became the champion, winning 9-7 in the fifth set, and becoming the only person to win with a wild card and the lowest ranked player to win in history.
He did have a career high Number Two ranking in 1994 behind Pete Sampras and won bronze medals in both singles and doubles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Both players were part of the ATP Champions Tour Masters’ Tournament at the Royal Albert Hall this week and they signed their respective sketches for me. For the record, Pat won this time.